Anyone can create a LinkedIn profile, but the predominant view is that LinkedIn connects “professionals,” as in college-educated people. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, along with vice president and co-founder Allen Blue, want to change that. Meanwhile, workforce-oriented funders like the Markle Foundation are experimenting with ways to expand the pool of workers who can benefit from digital tools.
So there’s a reason that, since 2013, Markle and LinkedIn—along with an array of over 50 members and expert advisors—have collaborated on Rework America. The initiative’s stated goals are to extend the benefits of an innovative digital economy to all Americans, including those who work in blue-collar jobs and small businesses. Strategies involve creating tools to better match employees’ skills with the needs of potential employers. LinkedIn is, of course, the dominant player in that field.
In 2015, as we’ve reported, the partnership led to Rework America Connected (now called SKILLFULL), a data-driven platform serving “medium-skill” job-seekers without a four-year degree in Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona. Those places were selected because they have the right stuff: many employers offering jobs, not as many applicants with the desired skills, and large numbers of residents with only a high school diploma and some or no college education.